Thursday, 2 February 2012

What a silly choice.



In my eBook The Self-Love Guide for the Working Mum I talk about looking after yourself. I talk about taking responsibility for your own actions and own choices. I talk about learning to say no and sometimes, just sometimes, putting yourself first.

But most times I genuinely enjoy putting my son before my own needs to see him happy. I am happy to make sacrifices that will provide my child with stability and a well-balanced home life, and the cost of such sacrifices pale in comparison compared to the joy his smile and happiness brings me. They might only be small sacrifices but foregoing things I have enjoyed in the past doesn’t seem such a big deal to me. I am happy to give up the socialising to the extent I used to enjoy it to spend time at home with my boys. I am happy to give up a new closet each season for trips to Bunnings and a comfortable home. I am happy to spend more at Coles Supermarket than Myer. I am happy spending less time doing things I love to do things my boys love, to see them smile.

So it saddens me sometimes when I realise how I have worked for so long and have had to sacrifice after school pick-ups to work. I regret that choice I made ten years ago to work fulltime after my son was born. I regret that I didn’t settle for renting instead of buying our own home, and now I am committed to financial responsibilities that won’t allow me the freedom to not work. Yesterday was my son’s first day back at school after the summer holidays. I felt so sad. I walked him into his class full of grade six kids (he is grade five) and I felt sad. I still think he is my 'baby' and I find myself surprised at how big he has become. I feel like we entered pre-primary, I blinked, and now he is in grade five. For now he loves that I walk into class with him, but will he still enjoy it in another year, or two years? What if he suddenly decides he does not want me to walk him into class and I have spent the past five years working instead of picking him up from school and being there with him at ten minutes past three instead of 6pm? Why didn’t I put the financial responsibilities on the backburner for those extra three hours every afternoon?

I envy stay-at-home mums but I know it was my choice. What a silly choice.

27 comments:

  1. Big hugs Peggy - I imagine it is hard, but all I can say is I am sure you have given him a lot over the years and have done a wonderful job - even without those few hours a day. You are a great mom! there is no perfect solution really...

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    1. Thank you Deb. For the most part I devote a lot of my time to being with him, I probably devote more due to the fact I am not always home because of work. Occasionally I beat myself up over that choice I made to work, although I know it wasn't 'really' a choice in the start. Sometimes we need to do what we need to do. I know in reality those few hours lost are not really a bad thing, the time we do share is always 'quality'. :)

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  2. Oh Peggy, you sound like your being way too hard on yourself love. We make our decisions on what we believe to be best for all at the time...it hard..but Im sure you are doing a fantastic job as Mumma and working. Give yourself some love and a pat on the back xx

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    1. Ok Jen, patting myself on the back now. :) The mother guilt comes in small tides but for the most part I know I make up for it in many grand ways. Thanks for the encouragement lovely. xo

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  3. Peggy, Peggy, Peggy - do not judge your choices then with your experience now. It's just not fair on yourself. I've spent years lamenting choices I made in the past without remembering that when you make choices you make them with all the available information at.that.time.

    Your ebook says it all - you have quality time with him. Real, quality time. Focused, engaged and I'm sure he loves it. I bet there are parents out there who don't work but who spend barely any time with their children because they don't engage.

    xox

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    1. Thank you Kate, now and again it is nice to hear others tell me how it really is. You're right, if I knew then what I know now, well, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

      I do spend quality time with him, focused and 100% engaged. That is what counts. :) xo

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  4. Aw Peggy :(

    I read somewhere the other day that there is no such thing as quality over quantity when it comes to parenting ... but you know what? I disagree. Jaden is in daycare from 8 till 4.30pm five days a week. Not perfect but what I do find is that we get the best of each other. I never get sick of him and think "god I just need 10 minutes away from you child" so I think he benefits from a mummy who is always dying to see him!

    When we make choices, we make them with the information we have at the time. Don't look back with regret. Just look at the NOW and think "ok, what choices do I have available to me NOW" ... and go from there :)

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    1. Thank you Kelly, looking at the 'now' choices. :) I do think if I had started out as a SAHM I might not appreciate the quality time like I do now, maybe. I do agree with you in that quality is more meaningful than quantity. The time I spend with my son is pure undivided attention, quality time, I make sure of that.

      Thank you for the little note in twitter, that was a very kind gesture at a much needed moment. Thank you. :) xo

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  5. Peggy, Peggy, Peggy...now listen to your mother who worked fulltime through your whole childhood. Did you miss out on love or did you miss out on caring. Was I not there when you most needed a mother???? Yes I know I could have done better but i did best I knew at the time. If I could start again and knew what I know now I'm sure I would do a better job with lots of things. Working fulltime is a small sacrifice for having a roof over your childs head and a pantry full of food. Favourite toys for Christmas, summer holidays together as a whole family, days on the beach eating fish and chips. Without security of weekly pay packet there would be more sacrifices than just picking your child from school everyday. I stongly believe that working mothers can have a good balance on life and you sure do a good job with both work and motherhood. xxoo

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    1. Wise words Peggy's mum....

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    2. She is a wise egg isn't she Reannon!

      As always, you are right Mum. I would have to sacrifice a lot more than after school pick up if I didn't work. And yes we make a big effort on the holidays and weekends spent together doing things we love, that makes up for the working part. :)

      I have to say, I do love the full pantry. xo

      ps...hindsight can be good and suck at the same time!

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  6. Oh darlin, please don't beat yourself up. Your son will love you no matter what. Children do understand the choices their parents make, especially when they know that they are doing the very best they can for them. And you ARE doing the very best you can. It's all any of us ever want to do for our babies. Guilt is such a vicious beast and it seems that Mama's have it ingrained into them from the minute that babe starts to grow inside of us. Not saying it's right, it's just the way it is. We all feel bad about the various choices we make, but really, THAT is silly.
    Hugs Peggy xoxo

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    1. Thanks lovely. Your kind words put it into perspective yet again. My boy has been in after school care since he started pre-primary and he isn't even bothered by it! He did get super excited though when I mentioned I may be able to pick him up from school 1 day a week. His excitement was music to my ears and to my heart. :)

      We gotta do what we gotta do. xo

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  7. I empathise with your feelings - and understand.
    But I also think you're being too harsh on yourself.
    There are a multitude + a million ways to be a brilliant Mum - and you are.
    Don't put emphasis on what you don't/can't do or attend - give yourself kudos for the other gazillion sacrifices you make - daily.
    Your son knows how loved and valued he is - at 3.10pm and at any time of the day.
    xxxx

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    1. Shar I think when I get the guilts and feel down about it I do for a moment forget about the million other ways I make it count. Like I wrote in my eBook, I do make firm commitments in other ways (almost to compensate, even if only in my head) like school carnival and excursions. And to excursions I may only be 1 in 4 mums attending. So where I miss out in some areas I make up in others. Must remember that. :)

      Thank you. xo

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  8. Oh Peggy big hugs to you. There are no right or wrong answers with Motherhood. But without even knowing you and your son (in person!) he knows he is so loved. :) xx

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    1. Aww thanks Leanne, kind, kind words. I think you might be right. :) xo

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  9. Not a silly choice at all Peggy! The right choice for you at the time. I was a day care baby full time from 6 weeks as my mum went back to work and I think I turned out ok. Mum always said she was a better mum for it, as when we did get time together it was quality time and I can always remember doing the fun stuff, like going to the beach and craft.
    Your son will remember you for you, not whether you picked him up each day.
    It's quality not quantity and I have no doubt he knows that and loves you for you, not how much time you spend with him.

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    1. That is a relief to know Nat, my mum also worked from when I was a young age and I think I turned out ok! Your mum sounds lovely, spending quality time with you doing fun stuff. :)

      I know my son loves that we get outdoors and we get down and dirty. At the beach we get covered in sand and don't care that the car and house get sand everywhere. We live the small moments to the utmost, and he knows that.

      Thanks for the reassurance Nat. xo

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  10. Peggy I often feel the same way. I get jelous of the mums who can be there to do all the school stuff, of them catching up while they wait for the kids to finish school & I especially feel bad when I'm trying to organise things my boys want to do & its always got to fit in with my work....

    Its hard not to beat yourself up, I get that, but you made a decision based on what you knew at the time. Its neither right or wrong, it just is....

    One thing I am learning is that my boys are much more resiliant than I thought & the older they get ( they are just about to be 9 & nearly 12)the less they want me around anyway.They want their space, they want to feel as though they have some control over their lives, they want to show they are capable. This is something I am trying to do this year. I am lengthening the rubber band that connects me to them. I want to give them more space to grow but I still want to be able to pull them back too.

    Be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can & thats all you, or your boy, can ask of you.....

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    1. Thanks Reannon, I totally agree with you on all accounts. It was a choice I had to make with what I had at the time. I would love to not have to work now but it is what it is. Most times I deal with it, occasionally I hate it. On the other hand I am extremely grateful for the opportunities working has provided for me, not to mention the personal growth.

      Let me know how you go with the space. I have found around 9/10 is when boys (well mine in particular) tend to start gaining confidence to do more things on their own. And giving them the space and in turn the confidence is a good thing. It's good that you are aware of their needs. :)

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  11. Argh Pegs! I feel for you reading this but your Mum is right and i bet if you asked that bright and thoughtful son of yours what he thought he would put your mind and heart at rest.

    xox

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    1. Funnily enough I heard a story yesterday about a young boy who is in foster care. As much as the details sadden me it made me realise that the attention my son does receive is far beyond what many other kids receive. He doesn't even mind that I work, I think he barely notices. The time we share is still aplenty and very much dedicated, quality time.

      Thank you for your kind words Teresa. xo

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  12. It's so true when you compare to a child in foster care, that you realise that children with working mums who love them, are not lacking in anything. Mother guilt happens to all of us. It's such a yucky feeling. I have experienced the feeling before, only it was with my younger brother who was 12 years younger than me. When he grew up I regretted the times he had asked me to spend time with him & I was too busy with my friends or college. The guilt is not a nice feeling. As a mother I chose not to go back to work outside of the home (I think partly influenced by the regrets with my brother). I feel blessed for it to be that way, but the flip side is that there have been sacrifices (as your mother mentioned) we had to sell our apartment & return to renting, the pantry is not always full, there have been no big holidays. In life I think there are no perfect choices, there are just the choices we make. There are the blessings & the challenges of every decision we make & in hind sight it is easy to convince ourselves that 'the other choice' would have only had 'blessings' without the attached 'challenges'. I hope you can let go of the regret and don't forget your son is still your child.... make the moments you do have with him count.

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    1. Mother guilt is horrible but you're right, when you put it into perspective a working mum's child isn't necessarily lacking anything important. That's sad that you felt that guilt with your younger brother, I bet he barely remembers it now though. And, you can always diminish that guilt by devoting quality time for him now. :)
      I thought about your choice to stay at home and forfeit your apartment and full pantry, I thought about it all morning after reading this. I think that is a huge sacrifice and although I say I 'don't have a choice' I really do - I could do the same with my business and stay at home. But I'd have to sell our home and I too wouldn't have holidays and a full pantry. So thank you for sharing that, it made me realise I do have that same choice. I do often say my thanks for a full pantry and our family holidays, they are the upsides of my choice to work. You're right Lisa, either choice has its blessings and challenges.

      Thank you, you made me feel a little less guilty and a little more grateful. :)

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  13. ps. when I say 'your son is still your child', I mean don't fret that he has grown up & it's too late.

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    1. I'll try not to. I think I'd feel the same even if I was at home full time, it's the growing up too fast that catches my breath and makes me realise the younger years go way too fast.

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